Fine Art Print vs Standard Print

Fine Art printing is the term often used to refer to professional photographs being printed on very high quality paper. It is the result of the perfect combination of a great soulful paper, the wide colour gamut and archievability qualities of a set of inks and the expertise of a photographer and a printer (can be the same person).

The paper

A natural material to make the prints last

The difference between Fine Art paper and normal photo paper lies in the composition of the paper itself. As a matter of fact, natural fibres (usually cotton or alpha cellulose) must be included within the composition of fine art paper. The paper is not artificially bleached with chlorine, thus ensuring that the photos stand the test of time. A major asset in the sphere of art photography!

Normal photo paper meet the needs of some users when it comes to printing photos to be viewed on an occasional basis, whereas Fine Art paper will ensure that images are shown off in their best light and provides good performance when exhibiting prints.

Because Fine Art paper is intended for the printing of high-quality photographs, its quality must be ideally suited to receiving inks and pigments. The composition of the surface layer must allow the ink to adhere well over time, while offering a neutral pH to ensure that the paper also stands the test of time.

Lastly, a Fine Art paper will allow you to emphasise the composition of the image, while providing the ideal support for intense colours and marked contrasts, while also enabling a wide range of grey tones.

My long relationship with Canson

While there are a multitude of printing papers sold under a variety of brands, there are only a few brands that actually own their paper mill. And even fewer that can claim to exist since 1557.

Throughout my youth, Canson was THE reference when it came to paper. Whether it was the thick drawing sheets or the tracing paper we used in maths, both stored in the famous “Pochette”, a yellowish paper base packaging that enabled the pupils to carry it effortlessly. 

Canson was also a pioneer in the photographic process and patented a photo paper as early as 1865 which simplified the printing process and reduced its cost at the time. In 2008, Canson launched its range of Fine Art printing paper: Canson Infinity.

When I started my Fine Art printing journey, I was overwhelmed by all the different types of printing papers and brands. Thankfully, I quickly discovered the Canson Infinity Fine Art paper range and I fell in love with it. Thanks to it, printing has enabled me to be a more fulfilled artist photographer

The ink

The second component to a Fine Art print is the ink used. One often comes across the term Giclée to refer to a Fine Art print. In the early 1990s, it was the early age of successful computer printers. One of the pioneers printers was Graham Nash ( of the rock band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young). One of Nash’s employees, Jack Duganne coined the term Giclée derived from the French word “gicleur”, the inkjet printer’s nozzle. This computerised process and the inkjet printer revolutionised the way artists could secure their 2 dimensional works (photograph, painting, drawing…) in a rather affordable way while preserving the original rendering.


Pigment or die trying

Inks come in two types: Die or Pigment. If the former can provide very vibrant prints, it is a diluted compound that is extremely fragile and fades very quickly when not stored in the dark. Pigmented ink on another hand, while being liquid, consist of actual pigments in suspension that seat onto the print paper. It is not diluted as such and not sucked in by the paper. It offers the best lightfastness result of around 100 years. Hence it is the ink of choice for Fine Art printing.

All my Fine Art prints and Artist Notecards are printed with my Canon printer that uses  12 pigmented inks that offer of great gamut (the range of colour tones) and contrast.

To conclude, in a nutshell, a Fine Art print is the result of a process that ensures the rendering of the image is both of exceptionally high quality and stands the test of time. Of course, once the print is made, it needs to be mounted and matted to preserve all the great qualities.